A Burglary

June 25th 2006

The Harris’s across the road were burgled last night. It isn’t the first burglary we’ve had on our street; in fact The Trouble and I were almost burgled ourselves a few months ago, and would have been if it hadn’t been for my prompt action. It went like this as I remember it.

“Terry!” The Trouble shook me. “Terry, are you awake?”

“I am now,” I complained. I looked at the bedside clock. 1.35 am. Why had my wife woken me at this time in the morning? For sex? A possibility because when I dropped off around eleven thirty or so she’d been engrossed in a Jilly Cooper bodice-ripper lent to her by a lady friend with the promise that it was ‘fruity beyond words'( I wonder if Jilly Cooper has ever had her bodice ripped?  If she has it was by a less choosy man than me, that’s for sure).

“Listen,” said The Trouble, cocking an ear.

I listened for a moment, wondering if listening was some new kind of foreplay I hadn’t yet heard about.

“Can’t you hear anything?” she asked.

I strained my ears but heard not a peep. “No.”

“Well I certainly can.”

This didn’t surprise me. Women have a better sense of hearing than men, especially The Trouble, who has ears a bat would be proud of. A case in point is one day when she was in the kitchen and I was in the back garden repairing the fence and I accidentally hit my thumb with the hammer. Quite naturally I said ‘Fuck!’, but through gritted teeth, and at certainly no higher a volume than the level of normal conversation. But The Trouble heard me. The back door opened. “Language,” she scolded. “They have young children next door, remember.” Yet the same night, when we were watching television and seated not a couple of yards apart, when I asked her to make us both a cup of tea she couldn’t hear me. Not even after the fourth time of asking when I got up and bellowed it in her ear.

Now, however, her ears were functioning at bat-standard plus. “Someone’s trying to get into the garden shed,” she said.

Not sex then, I thought. Unless she wants whoever is trying to get into the garden shed to join us for a three-in-a-bed session. Or a three-in-a-shed session.

I still couldn’t hear anything so I got out of bed to investigate. I drew the curtains back slightly and peered out. She was right. It was a moonlit night and I could clearly see a couple of figures outlined by the shed, and obviously up to no good. What to do? Well I wasn’t going to approach them, that much was for sure. The way things are nowadays if I were to confront them and then fail to invite them in for a drink then offer to run them home with their loot I’d probably be infringing their civil rights and end up doing six months in Strangeways.

“Ring for the police,” said The Trouble, making up my mind for me.

I rang the emergency services. The call, surprisingly, was answered immediately. They must have someone new on the job, still eager to impress.

“Emergency, which service do you require. Police Fire or Ambulance?”

“Fire,” I said. Well there seemed to be little point in asking for the Police. A couple of weeks ago Gerald Davis a few doors up the road found himself in a similar position when he woke up in the night and realised that someone was downstairs burgling his house. He phoned the police at 2.30. They arrived at 2.50. Unfortunately it was 2.50 the following afternoon. Bemoaning the loss of his TV, DVD, video and several more attractive and easily transportable articles, Gerald asked them why they had taken so long to respond to his call. The reply given, and according to Gerald without so much as the bat of an eyelid, was that it was considered to be of low priority.

If someone burgling your house is considered to be of low priority I wonder what the Police consider to be of a high priority, demolishing your front door with a chainsaw, then emptying your house of everything not nailed down whilst shouting ‘And when I’ve finished I’m going to come upstairs and shag your fourteen-year-old daughter so tell her to get her knickers off”?

The fire engine arrived exactly six minutes later. The sound of a fire engine siren is much the same as a police siren, especially to somebody in the middle of a robbery, and when the two miscreants in my garden heard it they scarpered, thankfully before managing to break into the shed. There was a knock on my front door.

“Where’s the fire?” said the fireman on the doorstep.

“What fire?” I yawned, feigning sleepiness.

“We had a call your house was on fire.”

“No fire here, must be a hoax call.”  

“Bastard!” said the fireman.

“Isn’t it,” I agreed. And it is indeed a bastard if you have to resort to calling out the fire brigade to get rid of burglars because you know full well it would be quite pointless to call the police. But what are you going to do?